WASHINGTON - The Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) released a report on progress in reducing the number of speeding -related deaths, finding that in 2010, 10,530 people lost their lives in speeding-related crashes in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. This reflects an increase of 7% in the number of speeding-related deaths since 2000, even though the number of fatal crashes from non-use of seatbelts decreased by 23%, and alcohol-related deaths dropped by 3%.
The new report, “Survey of the States: Speeding and Aggressive Driving,” includes responses from highway safety offices in all 50 states and Guam. GHSA said states it similarly surveyed states on this topic in 2005.
The GHSA recommended that states should focus on more aggressive enforcement of speed laws and target speed enforcement in school and work zones. The organization said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration should sponsor a high-visibility enforcement campaign, promote best practices in automated enforcement, and sponsor a “National Forum on Speeding and Aggressive Driving,” similar to a 2005 effort to bring experts on the subject together.
According to GHSA, part of what contributes to this increase is the fact that seven U.S. states, including Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia increased speed limits as high as 85 mph on certain roadways.
Some states have worked to enact stricter laws since 2005, though the number is relatively small. Only one state, Indiana, enacted an aggressive driver law, though a total of 11 states have those laws. Two states increased fined for speeders, Connecticut for all drivers and Wyoming for commercial vehicle drivers. Lastly, three states, Georgia, Hawaii, and Pennsylvania, created a new “super” or “excessive” speeder classification for violators.
Survey respondents (state agencies surveyed), said the biggest obstacles to addressing speeding were public indifference to speeding (78%), and public perception that speed enforcement is just a revenue generator (61%). Lastly, 43% said a lack of federal funding for enforcement was the biggest problem.
Related to enforcement, 35 states reported overall decreases in the number of enforcement personnel. GHSA said respondents attributed staffing decreases to budget cuts, military deployments, and the existence of other, more desirable overtime shift assignments than speed enforcement.
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